After serving time in Germany and being held in custody in Britain, holocaust revisionist Fredrick Toben says he doesn\’t fear going to jail in Australia because of his views.
But the 65-year-old has offered the Federal Court an apology after refusing to comply with previous orders to stop publishing racist material on his Adelaide Institute website.
Dr Toben appeared in the court in Adelaide on Tuesday for sentencing submissions after being convicted on 24 counts of contempt.
He told the court he still considered the previous orders to be unreasonable and absurd.
But he offered an “unreserved apology” and said he would be extremely upset if his actions had offended the judge.
Dr Toben\’s counsel David Perkins urged the court not to send his client to jail, despite the fact that he had no money and no assets to pay a fine or to cover the costs of his prosecution.
Justice Bruce Lander questioned what weight he could give to Dr Toben\’s apology, considering he had given one before and withdrawn it.
However, he adjourned the question of penalty to a date to be fixed.
Outside the court Dr Toben told reporters he would not be concerned if the judge sent him to jail.
“I was prepared to be there today,” he said.
“I have no fear of prison.
“The longer you are in jail the more innocent you become.”
But whether or not he would shut down his Adelaide Institute website was subject to legal advice, he said.
The allegations of contempt were brought against Dr Toben by the former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Jeremy Jones.
Mr Jones first lodged a complaint with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission in 1996 and later applied to the Federal Court to uphold its ruling, which it did in 2002.
But in hearings last year, counsel for Mr Jones, Robin Margo SC, told the court Dr Toben had defied its orders for six years.
Mr Margo said the Adelaide Institute website was still publishing, (in July 2008), “virulent anti-Semitic material”, including that there were no death gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp and that the Holocaust was “the world\’s filthiest blood libel”.
In his judgment earlier this month Justice Lander said Dr Toben\’s conduct had been wilful and he had steadfastly refused to comply with the law.
“The courts have held, but his conduct shows he does not accept that the freedom of speech citizens of this country enjoy does not include the freedom to publish material calculated to offend, insult or humiliate or intimidate people because of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin,” the judge said.
“It is conduct that amounts to criminal contempt.”
The Federal Court ruling came after Dr Toben fled Britain in November last year when a German bid failed to have him extradited to face charges of Holocaust denial.
He had been arrested a month earlier at Heathrow Airport on a European warrant but a British court later ruled it invalid because it did not provide enough detail.
German authorities vowed to continue attempts to have Dr Toben arrested in other countries.
In 1999 Dr Toben was imprisoned for nine months at Mannheim Prison for breaching Germany\’s Holocaust law that prohibits anyone from defaming the dead.